by Lloyd Billingsley
This year the U.S. Army missed its annual recruiting goal by 25 percent, or 20,000 soldiers. That’s more than an entire division, which includes 10,000-20,000 troops. The National Guard missed its target by 9,000 recruits and applications are down more than 20 percent at Annapolis and West Point. This has the Pentagon looking for new ways to fill the ranks, but an old one might get the nod.
Retired Lt. General Thomas Spoehr does not believe a revival of the draft is imminent, but “2022 is the year we question the sustainability of the all-volunteer force.” If that means conscription, the mechanism is already in place. Men still must register with the Selective Service System. Read the section on “penalties for failing to register.”
Before Pentagon bosses revive the draft they might question the reasons young Americans now decline to enlist. Start with the military itself, assigned to defend the county but now deployed as a “woke” indoctrination network.
Under the military’s command structure, volunteers must endure propaganda charging that the United States has always been a racist nation. Strength lies not in weaponry, training, tactics, readiness, unit cohesion, and such. Instead, “diversity is our strength,” recruits and the public are endlessly told, with no explanation of why this might be so.
Under diversity superstition, every institution, including the military, is supposed to reflect the ethnic proportions of society. If it does not, the problem is always deliberate discrimination and the solution is government action in the form of quotas, indoctrination and so forth. This is why the Department of Defense now maintains the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI).
It’s not clear how this office enhances the military’s ability to fight and win. It was ordered from on high and officers had no alternative but to obey, lest they lose their careers. If potential recruits fail to fancy indoctrination at the hands of diversity commissars it would be hard to blame them. They might also wonder about the operations the military now conducts.
U.S. involvement in World War II lasted four years, 1941-1945, and culminated in victory over the Axis powers, including National Socialist Germany. By contrast, U.S. involvement in Afghanistan stretched from 1999 to 2021, more than five times as long. The Afghanistan campaign rendered heavy costs in blood and treasure but did not end in victory.
In light of such defeat, potential recruits can be forgiven for going another way. They might also have a problem with current commander-in-chief Joe Biden.
In Afghanistan, the Pentagon estimates, Biden left behind more than $7 billion in U.S. aircraft, weapons, ammunition, and communication hardware. In effect, the U.S. commander-in-chief became the chief supplier of the Taliban, our alleged adversary in the conflict. As Robert Gates recalled in Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, the Obama-Biden Administration had a problem with the basic concept of American troops defeating their enemies.
Biden’s military also shared intelligence with the Taliban, and gave them a list of Americans still trapped in that nation. It is almost as though Allied commanders had hired the Einsatzgruppen, Nazi death squads, in the aftermath of World War II. Biden also hired the Taliban for security at Kabul airport, which facilitated the terrorist bomb that claimed the lives of 13 American troops and more than 100 Afghan civilians.
The Delaware Democrat called the Afghanistan withdrawal an “extraordinary success.” Potential recruits might wonder what an outright failure would look like. Biden doesn’t have the troops’ backs, but he never had to worry about his own.
“Born in November 1942, Biden came of age amid the Vietnam War,” USA Today explains, “but unlike millions of men of his generation, he never served in the military.” As an undergraduate and law student, Biden received five student draft deferments.
Of the approximately 2.7 million American men and women who served in Vietnam, 25 percent of those in combat zones were conscripts. In 1973, the United States pulled out of Vietnam and ended the draft. In 2022, with enlistment on the wane in all service branches, military bosses and politicians are again considering conscription, with a difference.
In July, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 20-6 to require women to register for the draft as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The proposal is back on the table in the 2023 NDAA, sponsored by Senator Jack Reed, (D-R.I.) a West Point graduate but not a veteran of Vietnam. When that war was going on, many Americans wanted no part of it.
“Hell no! We won’t go!” they chanted. “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your fucking war,” they would shout. “Hey, hey, LBJ,” they wondered aloud, “how many kids did you kill today?” With revival of the draft now in play, that question takes on new significance.
The Vietnam war claimed the lives of 58,220 Americans, including 40,934 killed in action. The average age of those killed in Vietnam was just over 23 years old. For all their faults, maybe the ’60s protesters were on to something. And they weren’t alone.
For millions of Americans of all ages and persuasions, it wasn’t clear that the United States needed to be in Vietnam, and it was obvious that political and military bosses badly mismanaged the war. As potential conscripts and their parents should understand, misguided leadership is not a matter of history.
On October 12, 2000, during a refueling stop in the port of Aden, men in a motorized dinghy, loaded with explosives, were allowed to approach the USS Cole. A massive blast disabled the U.S. warship, killing 17 sailors and wounding 38. As crew members told reporters, the rules of engagement barred them from firing without permission.
Even after the blast, fearing that they were still under attack, bloodied U.S. sailors were told not to fire. As Petty Officer Jennifer Kudrick explained, “we would have gotten in more trouble for shooting two foreigners than losing 17 American sailors.” The cost to repair the Cole was $249.8 million, about a quarter of the ship’s original price tag.
On November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, a self-proclaimed “soldier of Allah,” Major Nidal Hasan, murdered 13 American soldiers—14 counting the unborn child of Private Francheska Velez, one of three women killed that day—and wounded more than 30 others. The Obama Administration called Hasan’s terrorist attack “workplace violence,” not even gun violence. Vice President Biden said the soldiers “fell” in a “senseless tragedy” and failed to name a single victim or openly condemn the shooter.
“As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” So said General George W. Casey, U.S. Army chief of staff, three days after the mass murder. Born in 1948, Casey graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 1970. His bio describes him as “an accomplished soldier and an authority on strategic leadership,” but shows no combat service in Vietnam.
Casey would not answer questions about what the military knew about Hasan before the attack. The Army knew full well that Hasan was an unprofessional psychiatrist and a supporter of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, yet they sent him to counsel American troops at Fort Hood anyway.
The FBI knew of Hasan’s communications with al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, but did nothing to prevent the mass murder. The terrorist took 14 American lives but since his death sentence has not been carried out, he gets to keep his own life. Hasan cheered on the Taliban and after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, he proclaimed, “We have won!”
This is what happens under commander-in-chief Joe Biden, but American men and women don’t have to be stationed in a place like Afghanistan to face sudden and violent death. A soldier of Allah can shoot them dead on a stateside military base. Their friends and loved ones can turn on the television and hear General Casey proclaim “our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength.”
Anybody can be forgiven for declining to volunteer for a woke military headed by the addled Joe Biden, who regards the Chinese communists as “not bad folks.” As he made clear in September, the Delaware Democrat sees the greatest threat from Americans who didn’t vote for him.
Recruitment is down and generals ponder a revival of the draft. Thanks to politicians, that may soon include women. In an update to Country Joe McDonald’s famous Vietnam song, parents can be the first one on their block to “have your girl come home in box.”
Potential draftees and their parents have plenty to ponder ahead of Tuesday’s elections.
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Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.
Photo “U.S. Army” by U.S. Army.